Still life photography has lots of practical and valuable uses. Perhaps you want to take a photograph of a beautiful bowl of fruit or perhaps you have learned that an important key to eBay success is uploading quality photos of your products. Learning still life photography can also give you opportunities for selling your photograph downloads on microstock sites or to food magazines. No matter what your reason, still life photography is a great skill to learn.
Unless you are photographing specific products or pictures for a magazine assignment, the subjects for your still life photography are endless. Fine art still lifes aren’t limited to just apples and grapes. Even super simple items like a few artfully arranged spools of thread can be interesting and attract attention. There are a couple of microstock sites like Shutterstock and iStock that have a high demand for all sorts of still life pictures from simple to complex.
In one way, still life photography is a lot easier than other forms of photography like landscape, sports or pet photography. With still life pictures, you can arrange the objects exactly how you want them and have full control over the photo’s composition.
And sometimes, good quality still life pictures can be even more challenging to photograph. Because still lifes are taken up close, it’s easy to see imperfections on your subject that you would normally never see.
Despite its challenge, using basic photography skills and the following tips, you can create quality still life pictures.
Lighting for Still Life Photography
With most professional photographers, they use a light box or soft box to take their still life photos. Although soft boxes can help out a lot, they still aren’t absolutely necessary to get good results as you’ll see shortly. However, if you do want one, you can find a soft box online or you can easily make one using instructions you find online. The purpose of these lighting tools is to provide even light on the subject.
Another way to get this good quality light is to set up your shoot outside. A high overcast or bright sky can create a natural soft box effect without having any of the harsh shadows.
Composition for Still Life Photography
When composing your photograph, you need to arrange the objects in a pleasing composition. Use a classical composition technique such as “Rule of Thirds” or “Leading Lines” or “Frame within a Frame” to create a good composition. Arrange the items artfully and use your imagination to get the exact placement that you want. For example, if you’re taking a picture of an apple try taking a bite out of it to give it some added interest.
Fill the Frame with Your Subject
Remember, the only thing that should be in your viewfinder or on your preview LCD screen is your composition. You need to remove any distractions or clutter from the background so you can have a clean and up close image. If you have a backdrop or background you don’t like don’t worry about it because it can be easily solved. The light box or soft box will solve this problem, but if you’re taking pictures outside and have a distracting background simply place a piece of white foam board behind your subject and you’ll be all set. If you want a sharp image, make sure to use macro mode or you can end up with a fuzzy image.
Look for a Good Angle and Start Shooting!
Rather than taking a picture from your head level, try holding the camera so that it’s at the same height as your subject. You should also try shooting from a variety of different angles.
Hopefully these tips have provided you some helpful information on taking still life photos that you can start putting to use immediately.